In entertainment, one name that shines brightly today is that of the feisty actress Shweta Tripathi Sharma. Effortlessly transitioning from one diverse role to another, Shweta has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.
From her stellar portrayal of complex roles in films like Masaan, Gone Kesh and Haraamkhor to her OTT outings like Mirzapur, Yeh Kali Kali Ankhein, and the recently applauded Kaalkoot — Shweta has captivated audiences across the globe and has left an indelible mark with her versatility.
Off-screen, Shweta is as endearing as her on-screen personas, embracing festive rituals and celebrations with utmost warmth. Amidst her bustling schedule, DARPAN Magazine caught up with this spirited actress to delve into her thoughts on the festival of lights, cherished Diwali memories, journey in the entertainment industry, and career goals. Excerpts from the interview…
Diwali is around the corner; how do you plan to celebrate the festival?
I am leaving for Delhi soon with my husband to spend time with our family there. Upon my return, I shall celebrate Diwali again with my friends and other family here in Mumbai. So, I celebrate Diwali twice, thus ensuring I enjoy the festivities to the fullest.
Do you have any specific Diwali traditions or rituals that you particularly enjoy?
I love the Diwali aarti. As a child, I used to just sing it because I was told to do so, but as I grew older, I wanted to know more about our traditions and customs and why we do what we do. So, I delved deeper into understanding the significance of our traditions. Each ritual holds a profound meaning, connecting us with our roots. Lighting lamps, the aarti, the festive delicacies – every tradition has a story behind it. They have solid roots, which date back to centuries, and it is a testament to our rich heritage, which I deeply appreciate and celebrate. So, if you ask me, I love all the rituals and traditions practiced during Diwali.
Is there a favourite childhood Diwali memory that you cherish?
Not just Diwali, but festivals were a year-round affair at my home because we would celebrate all the festivals, be it Diwali, Christmas, or Eid. It was always like if there is something to celebrate, why hold back? So, we were always excited and looking forward to some celebration or the other, and each festival brought unique memories.
Diwali is often referred to as the 'Festival of Lights.' What does this festival signify to you personally?
I feel the whole festive period, starting from Navratri to Diwali, is a very auspicious period. There is amazing energy in the air. This time represents strength and self-awareness to me. It's a period of spiritual growth and inner power. The energy during this time is transformative, encouraging us to make stronger life choices. And being conscious of this energy and harnessing it can lead to profound personal growth.=
Diwali is synonymous with delicious sweets and treats. Do you have any favourite Diwali indulgences?
I am a total foodie, but thankfully, I am not much into sweets. I do love motichoor laddoos, but apart from that, I love chatpata and chats. So, during Diwali, while playing cards, we often have pakoras and chat to munch on. That is a must during Diwali. That apart, I enjoy all the feast prepared at home. I love ghar ka khaana.
Diwali is a time for family gathering and bonding. Are there any unique family traditions that you follow during this festive season?
Since childhood, during Diwali, what we do is we put candles and earthen diyas across all the walls. Not one or two but a lot of candles and diyas. So, the effect that you get with fairy lights, we would create it with lamps and candles. That is one must-do Diwali activity for us. Firecrackers obviously are a big no because some things look very pretty, but at what cost? Another thing we do is heat a spoon on the gas and apply the black soot collected on it in the eyes as soorma. I need to ask my mom why we do it. Don't know why I never asked her about it before. And lastly, buying gold on Dhanteras is a tradition that we follow. This year, I have exchanged some of my heavy gold jewellery and got some everyday jewellery custom-made. I am excited to go get it on Dhanteras Day.
What message do you have for your fans and audience for Diwali?
Khoob khau (eat a lot), khoob celebrate karo (celebrate a lot), but be mindful of everything you do. And while you celebrate Diwali with others, don't forget to celebrate the festival in its true essence with yourself, too. Because we need to keep that spark within us alive. We don't need to get lost in the crowd. So, keep the fire in your soul, that akhand diya (forever burning lamp), alive.
Speaking about keeping the spark within us alive, what are you up to these days professionally?
I am shooting for Mirzapur season 3, it should come out next year, and then by the year's end, hopefully, the season 2 of Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein will release.
You have worked across both film and OTT platforms. With the changing landscape, do you believe there's more scope for OTT today?
The storytelling landscape has evolved significantly today. In films, you have about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours of screen time, whereas OTT platforms offer extended screen time. By that time, I mean the time you must tell your story. Because of the length of the episodes, OTT allows characters to develop gradually. Films are more like sprints and web series are marathons. If we stretch a feature film story into a series, it will get boring, and vice versa; if we try to fit an OTT idea into a feature, we will lose out on many things. Both have their unique charm, and the choice depends on the story being told.
Be it films or OTT, the audience has thoroughly enjoyed seeing you on screen. Can you share a bit about your journey into the entertainment industry? What inspired you to become an actress?
Growing up, I aspired to be a lawyer, driven by the desire to make a positive impact on society. I am incredibly fortunate to have a supportive family where creative pursuits were encouraged. I feel I am a person of borrowed interest. My parents, with their diverse interests, instilled in me a love for various art forms. My elder sister loved reading, photography, theatre and stage, and her artistic inclinations further shaped my journey. Our upbringing and the environment at home play a crucial role in nurturing our passions and shaping our character. And I am so happy that I got all these things from my family only. With acting, because of my sister's interest in stage, I found myself always on stage too. And I don't know how destiny works, but I feel that our dreams and desires often become our destiny. So, I have been on stage ever since I can remember. And while a lot of places make me happy, being on stage or being in front of the camera makes me a different kind of alive. Being an actor, even though I am Shweta, I also feel like Gollu from Mirzapur, I also feel like Shikha from Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, I also feel like Shaalu from Masaan… So, I feel I am expanding my emotional bandwidth with my characters and that I am very grateful for.
Most of the characters you have played have been quite intense. How do you detach from these roles after immersing yourself so deeply in them? Does it ever affect you personally?
I think it does. See, there is a book by Nirupama Subramanian called Powerful. In that, she talks about the different archetypes that women have, which are present in all of us. Now, those archetypes are Kanya, Rani, Veera, Apsara, Rishika and Maa — all these archetypes reside within us. So, it is up to us which energy to channel and when. Immersing myself in intense characters does have an impact. But then I draw from the different archetypes within me and channel the energies as required. But it's crucial to balance this by reminding myself of who I am outside those characters. It's essential to engage in activities that bring me joy, like meditation, reading, or travelling, to detach from the roles. Finding that balance is a challenge, but it's necessary to maintain my emotional well-being.
Amongst the variety of roles you have portrayed in your career. Is there a particular character that you found most challenging or rewarding to play? Why?
Golu Gupta from Mirzapur has indeed been the most challenging. The character's evolution over multiple seasons, coupled with intense emotional stakes, made it a unique challenge. Especially because even though only a few months have passed in the character's life, in your life, eight years have passed. This role demanded significant growth and depth, both personally and professionally, making it the most complex character I've portrayed so far.
Critical acclaim and success have undoubtedly been a constant companion on your journey. How has it changed you as a person and as an artist?
To be honest, I don't have a concrete answer for this. Having said that, success hasn't changed my fundamental essence. My hunger for storytelling remains unaltered. However, success does bring a certain responsibility. It gives you a voice to spark conversations and address issues through our work, which is why, for instance, I did Kalkoot. It challenged societal judgments, reflecting the need for change.
Speaking of your voice, as a public figure, your opinions carry weight. Do you find it challenging to express your views openly, given the scrutiny public figures often face?
Being a public figure does come with responsibility. People look up to us, so it's crucial to be aware of the impact our words can have. While I am mindful, I am not afraid to express my opinions. I've never been taught to fear expressing myself. Mistakes are inevitable, but it's essential to speak our truth, learn, and grow.
Looking ahead, what are your career goals? What aspirations do you have for the future?
My primary goal is to continue telling stories that evoke emotions. While numbers are essential in show business, the purity of intent matters most to me. I want my work to be driven by passion, not dictated by commercial considerations. Additionally, as an artist, I would like to keep exploring. Also, I want to travel to the film festivals of the world and show them what we are making in India.
Well, that is something we would love too! Here's more power to this power-house performer, who is no less of a firecracker on-screen and off-screen. Happy Diwali!